In Budapest, the Americans seem to have disappeared from the tourist spots. Similarly, the Germans are gone, as are the French, while the city is full of Italians who can be seen at flea markets, bars, restaurants, jogging and shopping along Vaci. They’re everywhere, with the exception of the NATPE Budapest market (which ends tomorrow), as if the international TV business does not concern Italy.

The “utcas” (streets) are lacking in Americans, Canadians, Brits and Germans, because they can be found at the Sofitel, headquarters of NATPE Budapest, along with the French and representatives from 23 other countries.

For the NATPE TV market at the Sofitel (a hotel situated on the Pest side of the city, next to one of the bridges over the Danube that connects to Buda) more than 50 rooms (for 46 exhibiting companies) were converted to offices. Additionally, the large conference rooms in the basement accommodated more, for a total of 152 exhibitors catering to 400 buyers. Between those companies that did not return and 37 new ones, the number of exhibitors has not changed from the previous year.

Only six Italian companies were present, and all under the umbrella of ICE Budapest Italian Trade Commission. Latin Americans also has had a small presence, with only seven exhibitors. However, the Canadian presence increased (nine companies), together with a strong showing from the British (20 companies), French (12 companies) and Germans (nine companies), while, as usual, the U.S. (with 26 companies) has dominated the event (sometimes with representatives from their U.K. offices).

The presence of the U.S. was also felt with the studios’ screenings of their new season productions (and at the last minute, Lionsgate joined in as well), with the exception of Disney, which attended with a table, and Sony, which did not attended the market but, according to NATPE, set up shop at the nearby Intercontinental Hotel.

In order not to siphon away buyers from the market, these well-attended screenings took place the day before the market kick-off, which this year began Tuesday afternoon rather than Monday. However, the Fox screenings, which extended after 1 p.m on Tuesday, caused some grumbling, attenuated by the realization that the studios’ presence brought to the market more buyers.

The presence of some new countries offered a good indication of the new trends in production and sales, although it is difficult to imagine how content from India, China or Russia could compete, since the audiovisual product from those countries is not highly sought after.

In this regard, it has been suggested that in order not to disappoint the expectations of some exhibiting countries, the organizers themselves should help distributors select content from their libraries so that they can be better appreciated by the territories they are targeting.

For example, Bollywood films are not found to be suitable for Central and Eastern European TV markets, though India could be successful selling documentaries. The same goes for Russia, which has even had difficulty selling a show about the life of a famous Polish singer to Poland. While Turkish productions continue to be very successful at the international level, it is hard to understand how the presence of six Chinese companies at NATPE Budapest was justified.

This year, NATPE Budapest experimented with a breakfast session at the nearby Café Gerbeaud (also the venue for some of the U.S. studios’ screenings). The two-hour session featured panelists Antony Root (HBO Europe), Patty Geneste (FRAPA), Nassina Boudi (Eurodata) and Peter Radnai (Chello).

In Part II of the NATPE Budapest report (which we’ll post next week), we will feature participants’ comments and opinions on the still ongoing market…stay tuned.

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